DALLAS -- The best thing that happened to the Dallas Mavericks during preseason play as they approach Wednesday's regular season opener were the Indiana Pacers.
At least that's according to forward Dirk Nowitzki.
An 11-time All-Star, Nowitzki acknowledged that Friday's 98-77 home loss to the Pacers in the preseason finale served as an eye-opener that the Mavs have some giant steps to take if they plan on returning to the playoffs. But he appreciates the Pacers pointing out the Mavs' glaring deficiencies.
"They just stepped it up there a little bit in the second half and turned the pressure up and we didn’t react the right way,'' Nowitzki said. "We took some bad shots, had some turnovers, and we couldn’t really get any stops.
"So it was a brutal second half. But that’s a good team showing us that we’ve got a long ways to go, so maybe this wasn’t all bad.''
What irked Nowitzki the most is the 25 turnovers the Mavs committed which led to 30 points for the Pacers, who are long and lanky and play the passing lanes about as well as any team in the entire NBA.
"We’ve got to do a better job protecting the ball, but they’re a very good team, they’re long at every position, they’re smart, they’ve been together for awhile,'' Nowitzki said. "You think somebody’s open and they’re quick enough to get hands on the ball and deflect it, and somebody else picks it up.
"They’re very long in there, they’re active. But we’ve still got to do a better job of protecting the ball and running our routes and taking what’s there.’’
-- Dwain Price
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